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The social construction of technologizing French 103: Case studies of teachers and computers

, The Pennsylvania State University, United States

The Pennsylvania State University . Awarded


The voices of teachers, those primarily responsible for implementing innovative curricular decisions, have been conspicuously absent in the professional literature. This study, therefore, explores the impact a weekly meeting in a computer-equipped classroom had on teaching assistants of third-semester university French classes. In response to calls for research to include descriptions of what actually happens during computer-based instruction, this study employed qualitative methods of data collection and analysis. Research methods encompassed interviews, document and video analysis, and participant-observation in classrooms, teaching assistant meetings and training seminars. Following in the tradition of symbolic interactionism, an epistemological framework of social constructionism was embodied into the collection and interpretation of data.

The researcher first analyzes how the mergers of industry, government, and educational policy have supported and sustained, in large part, de-contextualized reflection on the benefits of instructional technology. In the chapters which follow, findings reveal one teacher-participant, expert with technology, who believes strongly in the technology as an efficient tool to shape student writing. Despite his enthusiasm, the intersection of teacher beliefs, linguistic difficulties, and technical problems serve to impede an environment conducive to sustaining lessons in the target language and additionally privilege computer literacy over linguistic proficiency. The observations and descriptions of another teacher-participant's classroom challenge the literature on computerphobia which, heretofore, has employed questionnaires to determine the reasons for teachers' unwillingness to incorporate computers into their lessons. This study, however, points to the complex factors which arise when an inexperienced user of computer technology, who questioned its value, struggles to use the equipment and integrate computerized lessons that are in concert with her philosophy of teaching. The teachers' voices tell different stories concerning attitudes and practices of computer integration in their classroom, but their stories merge to demonstrate that the computer often co-opts the lessons it has been created to serve. These chapters call into question many of the long-standing assumptions about the benefits and utility of computers for foreign language teaching and point to a need for innovative curricular decisions to be meaningfully and regularly informed by the beliefs, practices, and experiences of those for whom innovations are designed.


Burnett, J.E. The social construction of technologizing French 103: Case studies of teachers and computers. Ph.D. thesis, The Pennsylvania State University. Retrieved April 21, 2019 from .

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